shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy herbs)
The Grand Day Out, But Not watch with Shoemom & -sisses continues: we've gone from a day of pampering beginning with a champagne breakfast and ending with a fancy dinner to...getting their hair done, followed by a semi-fancy dinner. In less than 48 hours. I'm looking forward to their showing up this aft with a bag of ketchup chips and a home pedicure kit.

Meanwhile. Having already spent a weekend wallowing recklessly in the baroque hedonism that is downtown Montreal - going to art museums and everything - I am strictly persona non grata today. Which is not a bad deal, as it means I now have a long, uninterrupted Saturday afternoon to Get Things Done. Such as:

--Finally knuckle under to mass media conformity, ie. sign up for Facebook. Yes, I discovered there's a Bob & Ray group. Shut up.

--Decide whether I also want to sign up for Twitter. It's kind of pointless really, since my evenings do not - shall we say - remotely resemble those spent in Casablanca circa 1942 ("8:42 pm: Cleaning up the cat's hairball." "8:43: Oh shoot, the cat wasn't finished.")  But it might be fun to live vicariously through the really exciting people. Still pondering.

--Organise my new bedroom. Because the cold is finally better - have I mentioned the cold? No? OK, consider yourself lucky and let's move on - anyway, I no longer have an excuse to still be living in a random pile of stuff. Except that, damn, do I have a lot of books. And all from different genres, which just complicates things no end.

I mean, thus far the mood is Quiet, Traditional Elegance (or as close a facsimile of same that can be acquired from IKEA) and displaying the Star Trek collection would not help any. Nor would Dave Barry, His Collected Works. On the other hand, the kids' classics and mysteries are be a trifle too cozy. What I really need is a carefully-chosen library of quirky-yet-sophisticated works of historical and/or sociological significance...I think I may have grown up just a tad too late, here.

--Organise the approximately fifty billion photos currently clogging my hard drive - isn't it funny, how the desire to take photos on vacation is in direct proportion to how pointless they seem afterwards? I mean, apropos of the art museum, I couldn't get the stills to work without flash so here I am with about twenty short films detailing things like 'That Cool Display of Moderne Chairs'. It's odd.
Albeit I am glad I got the Gainsborough in. Also the 19th-century Japanese pottery. Exquisite does not do this stuff justice. (The day camp in the background, though, could've done without that reminder. "Look, kids, what's this motif?" "It's a fishy!" "Yes! And how do we know it's a fish?" "'Cause it's a fishy!")

--Likewise, there is no longer any room at the inn for the thirty-odd Mythbusters eps recorded off the TV card, so onto DVDs they go. Also, I have to seriously review my need to keep
Big & Small in my life. It may be the funniest, cutest, smartest and charmingest TV series I've come across in awhile (even without the UK-only accents), but it does star fuzzy cloth puppets. You watch the eps on the iTouch in public, people look at you funny.

Or...I could just sit around and contemplate all the fun stuff I have on tap for the next while. Life really is pretty good, chez Shoe.

shoebox_dw: (hp snape get off me)
OK! So now that we've established that I vanish from people's thoughts the instant they take their eyes off the page...

Seriously, I'm not particularly bothered. The first and only question was probably going to be 'why do you keep asking for feedback when you manifestly aren't doing anything lately to deserve it?' and then I'd have to pull out the  'awww, pity poor me, I got a cold on my vacation and am sitting here sniffling as we type' card, and nahhh..

So, moving on now.

I did just get back from a weekend in Montreal. Sniffling all the way, but it was still so totally worth it. It was originally supposed to be a four-girls-together deal with Shoemom and the -sisses, but - as usual with our plans - things started crumbling with all the uncanny precision of a mathematical formula. Do we all want to go? Well, if we can't decide on that, maybe we should all stay around here and do something exciting - get tickets to a show, and dinner afterward? Whoops, we've been dithering about seat prices too long, show's out. How about we make appointments for a manicure? Oh, maybe that should happen a bit closer to the assembly...

The rewards of experience: very early on in this process I grabbed my stake and held on to it, through accusations of selfishness, unreasonableness and being anti-family, and the net result was that I spent a fab weekend roaming around drinking mochas in open-air cafes, visiting art museums and eating filet-mignon panini sandwiches, while everybody else...visited the local zoo with the nephews. I'm still debating whether to tell the one sister what a find the cheap little hotel she discovered turned out to be.

Not that I realised this while hiking up to it with my pack on my back, reading the billboard on the club down the way: Hommage a Metallica Aux Alcoholica. Rough translation: Oh, man, what the Hell have I got myself into?

It got better, though. A lot better. If Toronto is the civic equivalent of a marriage - quiet, conscientious, dignified - then Montreal is the random fling; life lived right out to the hilt, scruffy and exuberant and quite incredibly sophisticated. To the Quebecois mind there are just so many more interesting things ahead of caring about details like...oh...wearing a bra, for instance. Beautiful black woman coming down the street towards me at one point, tall, angular, dressed impeccably in a blue business suit with the jacket open to show her tight something out of Matisse by way of Gauguin.

You cannot be shocked - or rather you can, but there's no point, because caring about your shock is even further down on the list. So your best bet is to just go with it, to learn to appreciate the myriad ways that joie de vivre is worked into everyday living. I don't know if I could handle it on a continual basis, what with being a deep-dyed Anglo-Saxon and all, but as a weekend fantasia it was splendid. How is it possible that we should ever want to lose a place in which, having purchased a box of chocolates, the salesgirl casually mentions that the boxes are all hand-painted by 'the artist we're currently showing'  - gesturing at the walls, whose abstract prints do indeed match the one on your box?

Thus the weekend, and also some really great chocolate. Thing is, here I am now at home, the last day of the hols, meant to be a space in which I regroup and gear up for the eleventy-billion emails I'm facing tomorrow (at least ten billion of which will be 'Why didn't you handle this incredibly important thing before you left?!?)...and I'm feeling more like I could use another week. I just can't get untracked, somehow. I'm still sniffling, it's gray and drizzly outside, and the apartment's still a bare disorganised mess, and...and...grumblemopegrrrmuffleschmff.

I think I need some more chocolate.

shoebox_dw: (kitty sock puppet)
I am moved.

Not so much in the emotional sense, although the sight of the Ikea dresser still to be put together on my new bedroom floor certainly isn't helping. And the huge blowout fight with Shoesis on the actual day...erm, yeah, we've got past that and everything. She's too busy planning out our new 'French country' living room, anyway.

Then there are the cats. Who remain deeply unsure about this strange new joint which contains all the old familiar smells, but...not. I can sympathise with their distress, but that doesn't mean I enjoy being waked up by a fishy little tongue to the nose at 2am to be 'told' about it.

Speaking of being told about it, our new next-door neighbor is an, um, sprightly little elderly lady whose first line of conversation was our respective star signs. Told politely but firmly that we don't believe in that sort of thing, she replied, "Oh, you sure will if you spend much time with me!" Oy.

It's an odd building altogether. Small - only three floors - tucked lengthwise between a massive highrise and elegant row houses. Located on one of the more exclusive streets in the area (one down and around the corner from our ex-address) but seemingly only slowly becoming aware of it, renovating unit-by-unit as the people who've lived here for decades move out - often in coffins - and new faces move in. That is, people who aren't ninety-seven or so, and thus have no walkers to shove under a wobbly bathroom sink (true story from our friend's reno).

There are a decent handful of us modern young things, by now, enough that I can get an open wi-fi signal on the iTouch, but we are by no means in the majority. Especially since the geriatric contingent has all the dogs. Heavens t'Betsey, do they have dogs. Dogs and fussy balconies, those are the hallmarks. The astrology lady has a black poodle with a red scarf round its neck. She exercises it in the parking lot below us.

Read more... )wordpress blog stats
shoebox_dw: (why not dance)
Haven't been to the Metro Reference Library in ages, so decided to swing by tonight. As an aside, I really can't see why I don't do same more often. 'Food for thought' is a concept that I take seriously, and the Metro Ref is the equivalent of a black-tie banquet; all that lovely knowledge spread forth to be sampled, savoured or flat-out snarfed up, just as the mood strikes.

However, this post isn't about my contented daze - it covers the line that snapped me out of it. In re: Michael Landon and Little House on the Prairie, a TVGuide tome claimed that, roughly, 'He showed millions of viewers what a happy loving family could be..."

Ah...huh. I do not wish to pile it on the man any higher than the six feet already manifest, but come ON, now. As I think even the most sentimental of us can admit, this is feting a guy whose concept of loving family happiness mostly involved exploring the ways it deepens wounds and heightens suffering. On this show, if you love someone, welcome to a nigh-endless parade of drug addiction, blindness, alcoholism, abuse, rape, miscarriage, abandonment, menopause, the death of a child/wife/parent/dog, crop failures, devastating fires, loathsome get the idea. It was family togetherness as primal scream therapy, is what it was. And it usually wasn't even that subtle ("Say it! My brother is going to die! Say it! MY-BROTHER-IS-GOING-TO-DIE!")

This started me thinking about TV families generally, and why, the more they insisted on this kind of realism ('gripping drama' was the phrase usually used) the less I, scion of a highly *ahem* realistic family, could actually relate.

It could be that the Shoe clan just wasn't that interesting even in dysfunction, a distinct possibility. Then could be that, overall, real families in crisis generally aren't particularly exciting - speaking from the objective dramatic POV, at any rate. It's been my experience that people in RL tend to paper over their broken bits as much as possible - and by natural extension, their families' - simply because when you're in this kind of a situation your ultimate goal, your consuming desire, is to just be normal. Or anyway as close to it as you can possibly get, in public if nothing else.
Mind, there's always the chance that you'll grow up to develop a fascination with 50's radio comedians partly because they seem so blissfully average. But on the whole, not so much with the Huge Honking Traumatic Deal it all seemed to be on your Little Houses and Family-s and even The Waltons there for awhile. I mean, of course it often is a huge deal, it's just...well, you know. You deal with it, and part of that is you look for a nice escape on the TV, and instead there's John-Boy angsting over some ruddy traditional rite of Walton manhood or another. Just shoot the damn deer already, Freakish Mole Boy.

This in turn has got me realising a bit wistfully that I'll never really know normal, at least not in terms of family... at least. Is it kind of weird that, seriously, one of my chief interests re: Bob & Ray is playing around with the idea of them as average husbands and fathers? You know, contented patriarchs of their own little clans, wherein dads love their wives, and are kind and wise and understanding to their kids rather than forcing it to be the other way round, and everybody has supper together in the evenings, and it's all very (I'm assuming) sweater-intensive?

Yes, before you rush to the comments box, I know deep down that it was never really like that, for anyone. B&R had eleven kids between them at the height of the Baby Boom, I know damn well it couldn't have been even close to like that for them. Anyway, not after 1964.
Also, I should mention that I feel pretty silly, whining like this over comparatively minor issues. Shoedad wasn't a bad guy; he was just far too damaged himself to ever provide real emotional support to anyone else. As for the things that broke him...well, they're the stuff mainly of understood silence save the occasional loud accusation at the end of a drunken evening. I didn't say that there weren't times when a huge cathartic screaming fit wouldn't be welcome...only that it's unlikely.

Instead, I revel in the fact that I'm a ferociously independent woman who's learned strength in ways many people never will. And...I daydream, sometimes.
shoebox_dw: (garfield monday)
*returns from further web search* So nobody commutes from Milton to Brampton? At least, not by public transit? *sigh*

So yes, I think we're serious about moving. Something has to be done, anyway, because Shoemom is going quietly stir-crazy as things stand. She's a small-town - rural, really - Niagara native who's been doing her level best to keep up with the urban mileu for five years now; in one of the most multicultural cities in the world to boot. While she assures me she has no regrets (and well she shouldn't - the woman has a more active social life than I do at this point, for cripes' sake), apparently enough is enough. She's not getting any younger, and while she 'never thought she'd be the kind of person to care about this kind of thing', the fact is her 'roots' are calling her back.

I can't really complain about any of this, since I've had it pretty much all my own way in the matter for those same five years. She can't afford to live on her own, and neither of the Shoesisters are viable alternatives at this point, so we're joined at the hip for better or worse - better, since we're buddies as much as we are relatives at this point. I love her especially for picking up after Shoedad's desertion and making a strong, independent woman of herself, and I love her generally for what she's done for me since, well, birth, so what can you do?
Besides...while I also love my city truly madly deeply...I've been here for more than a decade now, and have reached the stage wherein most of the reasons I love it can be just as easily pursued at a distance. You know, I've been having a lot of fun playing at the city sophisticate - the way you do, in your 20's and early 30's - but I'm not really, never will be, and have the strong idea that it might be time to stop trying so hard.

Back to where, now, is the bit we've still got to sort out. Shoemom's idea is naturally of someplace corresponding much more closely to her experience; especially so since as a 'pioneer' (that is, one who works full-time in our preaching ministry) she's out in her community's face more or less constantly. Thus being able to relate in terms of language, culture etc is important to her well-being on several levels.
Also high on the list of priorities is lowering our expenses, simplifying our lifestyles at least a little. At the moment, we have a great place at a reasonable rent in one of Toronto's most desirable neighborhoods - and it's a jr. one-bedroom apartment. We're literally stuffed into two tiny rooms. An upgrade would be very nice indeed.

Thing is, there are complications. The big one is that I don't drive - and I work in Brampton, not Toronto anymore. So the search for Shoemom's more relatable mileu is limited by the exigencies of public transit.  As it turns out, apropos of my post last night, there are a lot of exigencies in the preferred corridor. It's doable, but it's nowhere near as simple as we'd thought it would be. The GTA commuter train system is set up to shuttle people back and forth from the outskirts to Toronto, not from outskirt to outskirt. Which is efficient use of resources I guess; but not at all helpful in re: ours, just now.

This nixes, unfortunately, most of the places in which she would be happiest - Niagara Region and immediate environs. Of the remaining possibilities, Burlington is the most desirable - since we lived there for awhile in the 90's - but still too far away, Oakville is kinda pointless anyway if the idea is to simplify living expenses, and Mississauga and Brampton are just...well, Mississauga and Brampton. All the same objections to the current situation apply, with 'all there is to do there is shop' thrown in.

This leaves Milton. Amazingly pretty, fashionable little city, all the amenities (it better have, being the fastest-growing city in Canada) close to everywhere else we'd want to be...a matter of minutes down the highway from Brampton...and no ruddy GO bus. Aargh. Will keep you posted.
shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy pensive)
Sat up with a cranky computer Friday night and most of Saturday (barring an unpleasantly cold and dingy foray into preaching service). Pages won't load, downloads crawl along then corrupt. 'Course, I only discover that last bit after I uninstall current antivirus program, because I thought it had been disabled by a killer virus.

Got a sick nervous headache.

Dragged self - in a medicated stupor - to a friend's card party anyway, after friend made wistful noises about uneven tables when I called to cancel.

Resumed computer ministrations immediately on getting home, wound up awake at 2:30 AM trying for the literal fourteenth time to get fresh antivirus to download.

Finally fell asleep to docudrama about the Boston Strangler, had horrible nightmares.

Sunday morning, woke up early, antivirus suddenly downloads like a dream. Just happy enough that I don't have worse problems to avoid punching holes in monitor with shards of juice glass.

Promptly get into huge fight with Shoesis over the usual random failure to respect. In the middle of it all, Shoemom suddenly bursts into tears, on startled questioning confesses she's in a mood anyway because she's sick and tired of city life. We apply usual therapy - ie., take off for Niagara. One thing leads to another, and we're discussing moving as far out to the country as a transit commute will extend.

Arrive home all excited, hop on that despite being literally just down the highway from each other, the area we want to move to and the area I work in aren't connected by transit.

Oh, well. At least Shoesis eventually apologised. Eventually.
shoebox_dw: (garfield monday)
I was over puttering about my WordPress mirror blog and this was the banner announcement:

LiveJournal Migration Made Easy

Never miss a trick, those guys.

In other news: I have the best parent on Earth. One who, on a dreary Sunday morning, is capable of announcing, "How about we have johnnycake (cornbread, for you non-Easterners) and bacon for supper tonight, after the meeting?"

Then - this is the really amazing part - she actually makes it. Yes. We had hot johnnycake, slathered with butter, and bacon for Sunday dinner.

I don't deserve her, I really don't.

I'm back.

Jan. 2nd, 2009 08:37 pm
shoebox_dw: (little mermaid)
I have a wicked sunburn, a baggie full of the shells that I swore I was not going to bother collecting this time, another bag of random outlet-mall tchotchkes that I am now eyeing warily from across the room trying to remember what they were, three hundred fifty or so sunset pictures with the horizon slightly crooked, and a half-eaten pack of Cracker Barrel caramel corn.

Plus enough field experience, mostly from that day I decided to walk all the way to the top of the island, to write an entire grad-school thesis on The American Tourist Goes to the Beach. Let us just say that this dovetailed rather unfortunately with my parallel inquiries into The Caloric Value of American Junk Food. Then there were the teeny Santa hats on the pink plastic flamingo wine stoppers...

In short, I had the most wonderful time.

Someday, I may even get around to recording more details, probably right after I tackle the mountain - strongly resembling the ones we drove thru at four-frelling-AM this morning - that is my f-list backlog. (For starters, It seems that [ profile] rj_anderson went and had a book released, and it is getting the fantastic reviews it richly deserves, so that's at least one Dance of Joy to be added to the list.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go take a well-earned vacation from getting back from my vacation.
shoebox_dw: (garfield well-informed)
Scene (slightly paraphrased)  from the kitchen the other night, as I was obsessing over my fiction experiments for the umpteenth time:

Shoemom: You just need to write about your life, no matter what. It doesn't take that much - look at Jane Austen, that's all she did, and she got to be one of the greatest writers ever.

Me [trying hard to keep a straight face]: Uh, thanks, Mom, but I think there's a bit more to becoming the next Jane Austen than that.

Shoemom [completely undaunted]: Well, you'll never know until you try, will you?


Meanwhile. Did I mention I've been to the new AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) yet? Because I totally have. A friend who works at the Bank of Montreal is just important enough to score us free tickets to a private post-reno reception (the BMO was the major financial backer). Besides the sneek preview, there was herb-encrusted rack of lamb, mini-buffalo burgers and the most darling little paper cups of new-potato fries. Clearly, getting used to life among the hoi polloi would be much simpler than I imagined.

Anyway. The reno, me likey. It's really gorgeous, in a very inviting, almost casual way. Friend (whose husband works there as a tour supervisor) tells me the sculptural elements were originally supposed to be metal - stainless steel, I think she said - but I much prefer the blond wood used instead. The juxtaposition of stylised and organic speaks perfectly to the dual purposes of housing art and the people who view it.

Shoemom and I, as our print-laden walls testify, are long-time habitues of the AGO (the local nick, pronounced as 'Ay-go'.) She loves art - Impressionism, in wonderful rich examples of which it abounds, is a favourite - and I love showing off my random bits of knowledge about the artists and the history behind their works. So we knock along, the odd Saturday afternoon, in perfect harmony.
This may explain why I'm also seriously impressed with the new arrangement of the galleries - by concept instead of time period or school. It's one of those moderne flourishes that sound horribly precious and contrived on paper; but in practice it's amazing how obvious it is, how emotion and mood draw you in where linear facts might not. The myriad ways a woman can be painted, for instance, or the North in wintertime indoors and out. This may have had something to do with the herb crusts, but by the time the night was out I was even starting to see the possibilities in stuffed raccoons slumped around random mirrored columns.

So that's the high spot this winter so far. At least until we leave for Florida next week. Which reminds me...
shoebox_dw: (garfield rabid moth)
The most hideously ear-sporking holiday song EVER in the HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE is that Jose Feliciano thing - can't really even call it a song, because all he does is like "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas!" over and over and OVER until you are CHEWING PIECES OUT OF THE CAR SEAT ARRRRRGH.

...The only redeeming feature this thing has is that, after awhile, Shoemom will turn to me and say, very solemnly, "Y'know, I think he wants to wish us a Merry Christmas." Then we giggle. It's our little tradition.
shoebox_dw: (garfield camera)
So it occurs on re-read that during the previous entry I may have left the impression that life @ Shoe Central is one long hopeless slog through dull beige despair, broken only for periodic rambles about Agatha Christie. Well, um...sometimes I also ramble about Rex Stout.

OK, OK. As long as there are cameras, there will be bright spots in life...

It gets even better when you realise that isn't jam at the corner of his mouth, that's a dimple.

This is my youngest nephew, Jakob; Jakey in the family, which happens to be Croatian on his dad's side. He is four-and-a-bit, and besides being so adorable that shop clerks routinely stop my sister and ask to take him home  (Shoesis' stock response: "Depends, can you give me a discount?")  he has already taught himself to read and write.

No, seriously. I'm not sure whether I should slip a plug in here for the Baby Einstein series of DVDs, to which he's been devoted from six months on, but something has turned this kid's brain on ahead of schedule and, baby-like, it sees no reason at all why it should stop. 

He started out by picking random interesting words from conversations and asking to have them spelled to him, which caused no little grownup sporfling as he wandered about with a pad, pencil and teeny brow furrows: "How do you spell 'disc-ip-line?". This led onto sounding the letters out himself once he'd written them down...then, we've recently realised, to sounding out the words themselves, and writing them down afterwards.

Which would be a shoo-in for the Doting Auntie Story shortlist even had this latter trick involved C-A-T...but that's the thing, it doesn't. My sister, the other night at services, staring at the pad he was proudly showing her: "Ahhhh...[Shoebro-in-law], did you tell Jakob how to spell 'November'?"


*long pause*

"OK then."

shoebox_dw: (mythbusters problem)
 So it occurs to me - sitting here with a comfortable stomachful of ribs, having caught up on all the family gossip - I might have been just a wee bit hard on the Shoe clan, yesterday. I'm not such a snob as can't appreciate their kindness and warmth; nor the generosity with which they scatter same hither, yon...and home-made BBQ sauce. Mmm.

Seriously...It's not such a bad thing after all, being a Shoe. Most of the time I get what I want - except perhaps in the matter of Jacuzzi tubs, but into every life some rain etc. - and have been blessed with a whole lot more than I deserve, besides. Especially with friends who'll forbear during my random fits of dissatisfaction, heh heh...right guys?


OK, back to the cute distractions next week, I swear.
shoebox_dw: (garfield schweitzer)
 So I'm typing this from my Granshoes' ancient 256MB Random Small-Town Computer Store Build, which gets no further attention from year to year except when my preteen cousins are jonesing for the Jones Brothers.

It's not that my grandfather is afraid of new technology; simply utterly, serenely conscious of having lived 85 years without it. A snappy young salesman managed to entice him with the prospect of on-demand photos of the grandkids, but repented in tears and ashes upon trying to explain the concept of 'opening email attachments' shortly thereafter. 
At which point the [theoretically] adoring eldest grand-daughter was hauled in ('[Shoe]'s so good with computers!'), apparently just because the Creator has a quirky sense of humour. The number of times I've tried to explain, say, Media Player to this man, only to be greeted with a stone wall of "Yes, dear...hmmm...why, that's a good idea...hmmmm..." would surely make Bill Gates cry.

Read more... )


shoebox_dw: (Default)

June 2009

  12 3456
7 8910111213
14 1516171819 20
21 222324 252627



RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags